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[PSST: Be perfect! … over 30 times in this Bible Lesson!]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Man”
for September 9, 2018

by Aubrey McMullin, C.S., Godfrey, Illinois
(618) 578-9407 aubrey.mcmullin3@gmail.com

This week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson, reminds us of our innate perfection as God’s ideas, and shows us how to look for that perfection in each other. The concept of perfection is referenced over 30 times in this week’s lesson. Let’s find out why!

Golden Text: Notice Man’s perfection and peace!

In our Golden Text we are given this citation: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalms 37:37). This command encourages us to keep an eye out for perfection, looking for it wherever we go, especially in unexpected places. Look at some other translations of this verse with your class. What do they emphasize?

“Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace” (English Standard Version). We can be champions of peace, enabling a better future for all.

“Keep innocence, and behold justice: for there are remnants for the peaceable man” (Psalms 36:37 in the Douay-Rheims Version). Are we seeing justice and keeping innocence? Those will make us peacemakers (which is emphasized later in the lesson) and there is a reward for us: the remnants, leftovers, if we can continue to hold to pure thoughts. “… for there is a happy end for the man of peace” (Amplified Bible).

What are the blessings we can see when we recognize God’s present perfection and harmony, rather than looking for mistakes, faults, or sins in our daily activities and encounters with others? I like how Rick mentioned in the metaphysical ideas for this week’s Bible Lesson that the Golden Text and Responsive Reading work together to provide us with “a firm foundation for beginning with perfection, remaining with perfection, and ending up with perfection.”

Let’s see what the Responsive Reading has to say about perfection!

Responsive Reading: Find your way perfect because His way is perfect!

Psalm 119 seemed mysterious to me for a long time, but I have grown to really appreciate its message that man, as the idea of God, is absolutely and lovingly and tenderly governed by divine law, which is applicable to every circumstance. In Psalm 119, we see that man is held in the freedom of unchanging, harmonious, divine law and is perfect, blessed, sinless, diligent, upright, and humble, to name just a few of our innate God-given qualities.

Understanding God’s law and living in accord with it, man is saved from all unfortunate conditions, because they have no place in God’s law. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “God holds man in the eternal bonds of Science, – in the immutable harmony of divine law” (No and Yes, p. 26). In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we read, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). Although the Psalmist may not have known about divine Science, the law of Spirit’s allness and man’s spiritual being as God’s reflection, or Christ Jesus’ demonstration of divine Science, he certainly conveys the Christly message of “the immutable harmony of divine law.”

Along with Psalm 119 in our Responsive Reading, we have Psalm 17:15 and some of Psalm 18. Both are very complimentary to the ideas mentioned earlier about our government of divine law and the living of this law. As we live in this law and are governed by this law of divine Love, why wouldn’t we wake and be satisfied with God’s likeness (Psalm 17:15)?

I love how Psalm 18 wraps up the Responsive Reading by bringing out the idea of perfection mentioned in the Golden Text one more time. The Psalmist mentions that God’s way is perfect, and that it is God that makes our way perfect. Isn’t that how reflection works? If God’s way is perfect and we are the reflection, the image and likeness of God, then how can our way be anything but perfect also? Isn’t our way perfect because His way is perfect? Can our way ever not be perfect of God’s way is always perfect and perfect in all ways?

Section 1: See Man as the FULL expression of an infinitely good God!

I can’t read the phrase “in the beginning” (B1) in the Bible anymore without also immediately recognizing that Mary Baker Eddy tells us that this word, beginning, ”is employed to signify the only, – that is, the eternal verity and unity of God and man, including the universe” (SH p.502:24-27). Our Bible lesson stars us off with the idea of perfection and then restates that this perfection has existed from the beginning, or as we know it – the only. We were created in His image and His likeness, His perfection, His peace, so how do we consistently live as the image and likeness and perfection and peace of God?

In this section, the Bible mentions perfection, peace, and river. What do those three things have in common? What does peace have to do with perfection? What does river have to do with peace? What does Mary Baker Eddy say about River in her textbook (SH p.593)?

What does it mean to be tributary to God? If “God’s being is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss” (S1, p.481:2-4), and we are tributary to Him, what does that mean for us? How does this relate back to what this section’s Bible portion was telling us?

In citation S2 of the Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, we find that “the human capacities are enlarged and perfected in proportion as humanity gains the true conception of man and God.” What does that mean? How can human capacities be enlarged and perfected? What is the true conception of man and God that must be gained in order to see this change? In citation S3, we are given a strong statement that “man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness.” If matter is not the likeness of God, what is? What are we seeing as the likeness of God? What are we claiming for ourselves as the likeness of God?

Section 2: Move with God and witness peace!

The experience of Isaac as told in this section from Genesis 26 illustrates the spiritual method of overcoming conflict and its effects and establishing peace. We read that Isaac, dwelling in Gerar in the land of the Philistines, re-dug the wells that Abraham had dug and that the Philistines had filled up. When Isaac's servants dug the first well, the herdsmen of Gerar fought with them. So Isaac moved to another place and dug another well. Then the Philistines repeated their unkind action. So Isaac moved again and dug another well. This time no strife followed, and Isaac said, "Now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land" (B8, Gen. 26:22). What was the result of Isaac’s movement in accord with God (S6, p. 515:22)?

Today, when we are humanly involved in misunderstandings or in conflict with others, we probably don’t go around from one spot to another digging wells. We do know that an honest effort must be made to correct and destroy error, and so we move from one attitude to another. Such an experience may be similar to moving and digging wells as found in this story. How do we search our own thinking and change whatever is not good [or “a wellspring of Life”], and begin to think in a way that is spiritually correct?

How, rather than beginning our work by dwelling on the problem, can we begin first by realizing God’s omnipotence and omnipresence? How can we fill our thought with the understanding and acceptance of God’s universe? How can we insist upon thinking along the lines of God, good, and therefore see our unhappiness lessen and the hope of peace grow? How can we see, not only our need in this seeming conflict, but the need of another and supply it (S8, p. 518:17-19)?

As we progress in seeing the real situation, which is wholly spiritual (S10, p. 276:19), we are aware of thoughts coming to us as our own which must be destroyed. As we recognize the errors, perhaps we find an unconscious temptation to act out revenge. Jesus knew we might be so tempted, and he said, “ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (B9, Matt 5:43-45).

How does the story in this section, as well as what is given from Matthew (especially the specific beatitude) encourage us to be perfect peacemakers? What does it mean to be a true peacemaker? Are we not peacemakers from the beginning, as we were created as the children of God? Bible scholar Barry Huff and former Christian Science lecturer Susie (Rynerson) Jostyn have taken a closer look at the Beatitudes, and share a story about peacemaking that is helpful for understanding the Beatitude in this section about peacemaking! Here is the link to the podcast they have put together about the Beatitudes, and the one I’m referring to is titled, “Blessed are the peacemakers!”

https://www.christianscience.com/youth/sunday-school/resources/the-beatitudes-podcast

Section 3: Love what is right because we are Love’s right ideas!

Jesus was able to handle with authority whatever problems arose because he was always conscious of his unity with God. His understanding of man as God's perfect image brought the Christ, the spiritual idea of sonship, to stand in human consciousness, and the result was healing (B13, Mark 2:14-17). His spiritualized thought was a blessing to all.

How can we bless all by spiritualizing our thought? How did Jesus spiritualize his thought and therefore see man as God sees man? How did seeing man this way heal? Mary Baker Eddy devotes almost two and a half pages in her textbook to answer the question: “What is man?” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475–477) She states that man is “incapable of sin, sickness, and death” (S14, p. 475). As she elaborates, we are shown a new view of our identity—the correct view. This correct view has nothing to do with matter, and is not at all originating in flesh which directly correlates to the last verse in the Bible for this section (B14, Romans 8:5, 6). Are we after things of the flesh, or are we after things of the Spirit?

Wrapped in the middle of this incredible definition, like a beautiful gift, is a sentence that tells us how Jesus healed: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals” (S13, p. 476). How do we gain a clearer glimpse of the perfection that is innate in ourselves and others? How can we replace a false opinion we may have of someone with the true spiritual view of men and women learned in this section?

How can we let go of any sense of human history that may make us or others appear to be anything less than perfect and really behold in Science the perfect man? How do we “mark the perfect man, and behold the upright” (Golden Text, Psalms 37:37), and really love what is right about man as Love’s right idea?

Section 4: Acknowledge innate God-given wholeness and perfection –your divine inheritance!

It is a joy to know that thousands of people are being healed and blessed through an understanding of the true facts of being as revealed in Christian Science. On occasion, however, we may hear of a case where healing was not forthcoming, even perhaps after extended prayerful treatment. Have you ever felt like the man by the pool of Bethesda (B18, John 5:2-11)?

It was believed that when the waters were disturbed from time to time, whoever was fortunate enough to get into the pool first could expect healing.

I’ve heard that the five porches of Bethesda might symbolize the five physical senses. These senses sum up the generally accepted world belief of life as existent in matter. This belief in intelligent matter is the basis of all disease and infirmity. The Bible account states that in these five porches there "lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered (B18, John 5:3)"—and these conditions are typical of the belief of life as existent in matter.

The people were "waiting for the moving of the water” (B18, John 5:3). The pool perhaps could be considered as representing accumulated human theories and beliefs about life—physiological, biological, medical—theories that mortals tend to look to for their health and deliverance, and generally accept as conditioning their experience.

When Christ Jesus asked the invalid, "Wilt thou be made whole?" the man may have been surprised, because he had been waiting so long for his healing. However, he apparently was still looking to the pool for help. He replied, "Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool” (B18, John 5:7). Perhaps this man was hoping that Jesus would help him into the pool. Instead, Jesus showed him that he didn't have to wait. He could look away from dependence on material means and look instead to the Christ, the true idea of God, divine Spirit, to discover his wholeness.

How are we including this Principle and idea that Jesus demonstrated of perfect God and perfect man as our basis of thought and demonstration (S18, p. 259:11) and therefore showing ourselves and others that we don’t need to wait for someone to take us into the water, but can rise up and look away from matter to see our already innate wholeness in God? How are we rising to overthrow the “plea of mortal mind” (S22, p. 390:32)? Are we really gaining the true idea of God, and witnessing harmony, immortality, peace, and perfection (S24, p. 324:7-12)?

Section 5: Recognize peace as infinite and a part of your infinite reflection of God!

Can we have both perfection and imperfection in real existence (B19, 1 Cor. 13:10)? In order to understand the utter nothingness of any delusion it is necessary to understand the whole truth. This was surely what Paul meant when he wrote to the church in Corinth, "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (B19, 1 Cor. 13:12). Paul knew well enough that the things which he saw around him were enigmas which he was only partially able to understand. But he also knew that the more he acquired of the Mind of Christ, the clearer his appreciation of the spiritual would become, and that for the misconception of the spiritual seen through the blurred mist of the material senses, there would be substituted man formed in the image and likeness of God. How do we keep our windows pure and clear that we can accurately acquire the Mind of Christ like Paul did? How do we clear away any sense of mist or fog that would attempt to keep us from the whole truth about man as the image and likeness of God that is our divine right to attain?

Man's true value in mind is the same as the fixed and relevant value of any one number. Man’s value can be no more, no less than God's perfect image. As wisdom, health, strength, love, intelligence, peace, life, truth, self-immolation, and purity are without color or form and can only be recognized in Mind, so the true man can only be known in Mind (S26, p. 99:23). Endeavoring to work out life's problem by giving man less than his true value, will never change the absolute Principle and Science of being (S28, p. 471:17-18).

What is the “enlarged individuality,” the “wider sphere of thought and action,” the “more expansive love,” and the “higher and more permanent peace” that we are holding man to, as the image and likeness of God (S27, p. 265:10)? How can we reach, in thought and action, this scientific sense of being for ourselves and others?

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